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'Cultural diversity' changing how people in Riviera Beach 'live, work and play'

Posted at 6:27 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:43:26-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Diversity matters. It’s not just a slogan and there’s plenty of research that shows more people value a more “culturally diversified” workforce. But in one South Florida city, cultural diversity is changing how people “live, work and play.”

There’s a lot to see, eat and do at the TikiMarket in Riviera Beach.

“This is an incubator for small businesses — there’s a huge customer base,” said Alisa Hall, Riviera Beach TikiMarket manager. “We welcome everybody and we provide an opportunity for everyone without judgement.”

A customer base that’s as diversified as its vendors. You’ve got Haitian Jacques Belony, owner of Taino Tiki whose selling locally grown coconut water.

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Jacques Belony, owner of Taino Tiki, preparing locally grown coconut water.

”I want coconut water to be as popular as Gatorade,” Belony said. “It’s something that’s readily available with plenty of health benefits.”

You’ve also got Jamaican Grace Bodden, owner of Juicylicious, LLC selling her homemade juices.

”Basically, I started this juice business as something for my daughter to raise funds for a pageant — it was supposed to be a one-time deal, but after the pageant my juices stayed in high demand,” said Bodden. “This is now a family business and legacy I can leave to my kids.”

And then you have jeweler Tamika Peters whose known as the “Crystal Lady” in Port St. Lucie.

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”People need to understand that we are all created differently. And everybody has something (to give) when you’re born,” Peters said. “There’s a lot of negative energy — people need to focus less on other people’s journey’s and more on themselves and how they can contribute positively, collectively and united.”

And that’s why these three said they do business in Riviera Beach. There’s a visible emphasis on celebrating differences, inclusion and diversity.

“Just a sense of unity, family, friendship and fellowship,” Belomy said.

”It’s all of those things,” added Robin Fields, BSA Troop 777 unit leader. “We need unity and you’ve got to start with the kids and get them together to embrace growth and opportunities.”

BSA Troop 777 at Riviera Beach TikiMarket.JPG

And it’s sentiments government officials are noticing and hearing. Recent U.S. Census data shows the city’s population has increased by almost 16% over the last decade and diversification rates have also increased. The Asian population by 44% and the Hispanic population by 71%.

“We say that we are the best city to live work and play and we want that to be true,” said Marsha Noel, assistant to the City Manager. ”We have to reimagine it together, because it’s for us now and for those in the future.”

Noel said the city is incorporating its diversified growth into the $200-million redevelopment plan Reimagine Riviera Beach.

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Noel said Riviera Beach government officials remain intentional about recognizing the city’s diversity. Expect big things for Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. See the full calendar here.

To visit or to be a vendor at the weekly TikiMarket which happens every Sunday from 10am to 3pm at the Riviera Beach Marina visit, here.